Music, Student Life

Music and photography students combine faith and learning abroad

By CSU Media | September 7, 2018
CSU Study Abroad

In July 2018, 47 people—seven photography students, 31 CSU musicians, six community members and three professors—traveled to Europe as part of a Charleston Southern University study abroad program. Over the course of 18 days, the participants made their way through Switzerland, Austria and Germany to explore new cultures and apply insights to their craft.

CSU Horton School of Music students were able to visit and perform at sites associated with the Reformation, a religious movement of the 16th century, more than 500 years after it began. 

Some of their performances took place at Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany; Grossmünster in Zürich, Switzerland; St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva, Switzerland; and Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany. They also performed at the Mid-Europe International Band Festival in Schladming, Austria.

Dr. Marshall Forrester, CSU professor of music and director of bands, said the students also played music from Germanic lands that they studied during the past academic year from composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Martin Luther, Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill and others. 

“The visits and performances offered a synthesis of so many academic subjects including music, photography, history, Christian studies, geography, sociology, foreign language and many more,” Forrester said. “It’s this type of immersion that ‘connects the dots’ and reinforces formal instruction in the classroom.”

Photography students, led by Edward Speyers, CSU associate professor of graphic design, worked on-site in historic and natural locations, including the Berlin Wall. 

Ellen Young, a CSU junior pursuing graphic design with an interest in photography, said that her favorite aspect of the trip was learning about the culture each country possesses. 

“The diversity God created in this world astounds me and traveling through different cultures and countries opens my eyes further to the creativity, glory, and love of Jesus Christ,” Young said.

She also explained that by gaining new perspectives through various cultures, the trip directly impacted her education in graphic design.

“As a graphic designer, understanding different cultures of the diverse countries in this world is huge as I design and advertise to various audiences around the world and even in the U.S. with all of its diversity,” Young said. “Understanding your audience is crucial to being a good designer.”

In addition to the support from the professors who attended, the trip was made possible by the Horton School of Music; the CSU Bands; CSU Photography; the Global Education Committee; the Vice President of Academic Affairs Office, Dr. Jackie Fish; the Office of International Programs, Stephanie LeVan, director; and the CSU business office.

For more information about CSU study abroad opportunities and to learn why study abroad benefits CSU students, visit

Photo Credit: Ellen Young, Veni Vidi Cepi Photography

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